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January 18, 2021

Riding out the New Normal

Manual

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We certainly find ourselves in interesting times. Looking back a year ago to January 2020, not many of us saw what was coming. In the following months, Covid-19 reached our shores, and event after event was canceled as the nation went into a Level 5 Lockdown. Just as it seemed as though there was a glimmer of hope for the 2021 event schedule, the very necessary regression to a Level 3 lockdown is again seeing events being canceled or postponed.

As a cyclist, I have found it hard to keep motivated and keep that “pencil” sharp without my favourite events on the calendar. Chances are, you are too. I am however a firm believer that in every adverse situation, lies an opportunity for change and improvement if you are willing to do things a little differently.

Below are some tactics which I have employed with my riding to keep me motivated:

Bike Skills:

We are often so focused on training, doing our normal loop or joining the group ride, that bike skills are often neglected. During Level 5 lockdown while working from home, I got into the habit of practicing 1 bike skill for just 10 minutes a day consistently. Wheelies are one skill that I had never really mastered in my 20 years of riding. I can confidently say that it is now a skill that I have in my books.  By working on this skill daily, I inadvertently improved my brake reflexes, strengthened my core, and drastically improved my balance on the bike. There are many different techniques one learns through skills such as track stands, bunny hops, endos, and wheelies that you can take out onto the trail which will help you become a better bike handler. Make the time every day to practice some of these skills, or even better find a short technical loop on your local trails, and take the time to ride a few laps each week. When all the repetition finally clicks, it’s going to make you smoother on the trail.

Wheelie

Photo: Diedre Cloete

Structured Training

During the winter months of lockdown, I found it really hard to get out early and ride, especially with no events on the horizon. As the prospect of some events opened up, I started following a structured training plan to help me get race-ready. We still face a lot of uncertainty with regards to the future of our events, however following a program has helped me get into the habit of riding a few times each week. The improvements felt from following the program has added extra motivation to keep going, despite not knowing when the next event will be. So whether it’s an event, or a self-determined goal, finding your purpose and aiming towards it in a planned manner is going to get the wheels turning.

Explore More

Many of us are creatures of habit, and I often find myself resorting to the default options of my local trails over the weekends. While repetition is good for improving bike skills, another great way to improve them is to visit some of your nearby trail networks. I have found that this has made me more versatile in the way I approach any new terrain, and has made me even more comfortable on trails that I know. The change of scenery is also something to welcome, especially if working from home during the week.

Overall, I am happy to say that I am feeling really strong and capable on the bike as a result of consciously applying the above principles. It’s not all about pushing yourself to the limit but keeping it fun and enjoyable. That’s why we started riding bikes in the first place, isn’t it? The rest will follow.

They say it takes 21 days to create a habit. If you agree with the above principles but are at a loss of where to start, I have a free, 4-week training plan to get you started. Please get in touch by using the contact form below and I will happily send it your way.

 

Yours in cycling,

Renay

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